Sunday, March 27, 2011

A Surprise

Every neighborhood in England has its local pubs. We are fortunate to have several near us, the closest having always been Coopers Arms, just a 2 minute walk away, where our kids love the Tuesday Night Pub Quiz Night and I love the Penne Prawn Pasta.

A few months ago, we began to see some activity at the old pub just down the street from us towards the Royal Chelsea Hospital. Formerly The Surprise pub, it had closed down in 2006 and had been empty all these years.

Glad to report there's a new "pub on the block" with a fresh paint job that has just re-opened and

once again is called The Surprise, in honor of one of the 13 ships of the Royal British Navy which have been called throughout history "The Surprise".  More about the pub here at their website.

The typical pub sign reminds us that the pub is smack dab in the middle of our quiet neighborhood

and is as warm and cozy as ever.

We enjoyed a night out recently at this newly opened "gastro-pub," a term which always refers to an establishment serving higher-end drinks and food.

Their concept for meals is a bit unique--almost like British tapas, or the "many plates" concept as they call it. It is suggested that you order several, and that we did on our first visit.

The next time I go, however, I may need to take my British dictionary to help me wade through the translations of many of the dishes. What would be your choice if you dined with us?

Warm scotch egg, cockles and whelks, Welsh rarebit, tinned sardines in tomato sauce, Kipper paté?
Or perhaps you would prefer Stinking Bishop macaroni and cheese, Rabbit, out of the hat (a daily surprise,) pork cheek and black pudding, or Shepherd's pie with hogget shoulder.
And for dessert, Sussex pond pudding or Eton tidy?

I think we might have a wee bit of investigative work ahead of us.


  1. the menu seems not bad! I am surprised by the way the interiors look. Here when a place is called a "pub" is usueally much darker and appropraite only for drinking:)

  2. I would love if this was right down the street from us. Too cool! The reno they did on it (although I didn't see the other) is really cute. As for the menu, don't lie, that is not in english, haha. Where are the tacos?!

  3. I wouldn't mind having those pubs down the street from me, either....I love how the pubs are so homey! Have a fabulous week, Debi! xxoo :)

  4. Interesting to live in two cities ! I live in Brussels, Belgium, greetings, anni

  5. Ah, the good old British pub! I do like them "oldy-worldy" (if you know what I mean) and have found a lot of the newer gastro-pubs a bit of a disappointment...the old ones are the best ;-) Have a lovely week, looks like Spring is finally here - nearly xo

  6. Pubs are so much PRETTIER than I'd imagined! You'll have to fill us in on all of that mystery cuisine.

  7. VEry pleased to read that the pub has been restored and looked after .. and it does look lovely inside :-) .. but always gringe at "Gastro Pubs" .. Sorry it makes me think why would you serve or buy tinned sardines in Tomato sauce .. I just looked at the menu .. I hope they do well .. but not my choice .. I am sure that there are lots of people who would give it a try :-)

  8. Wonderful. Pubs bring back so many memories of meals in England. I'll have to keep checking back in to hear your impressions of the upcoming nuptuals!